Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Seabird and Pinniped Research Activities in Central California, 2016-2017, 34978-34984 [2016-12816]

Download as PDF 34978 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Notices the NCCoE Web site http:// nccoe.nist.gov/. Threatened CCC Steelhead (O. mykiss). Kevin Kimball, NIST Chief of Staff. Permits Issued [FR Doc. 2016–12860 Filed 5–31–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–13–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XE221 Endangered and Threatened Species; Take of Anadromous Fish National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Issuance of one enhancement of survival permit. AGENCY: Notice is hereby given that NMFS has issued Permit 20032 to Sonoma County Water Agency. ADDRESSES: The application, issued permit, and supporting documents are available upon written request or by appointment: California Coastal Office, NMFS, 777 Sonoma Avenue, Room 325, Santa Rosa, CA 95404, ph: (707)-387– 0737, fax: (707) 578–3435). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dan Wilson, Santa Rosa, CA (ph.: 707–578– 8555, Fax: 707–578–3435, email: dan.wilson@noaa.gov). SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The issuance of permits and permit modifications, as required by the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531–1543) (ESA), is based on a finding that such permits/modifications: (1) Are applied for in good faith; (2) would not operate to the disadvantage of the listed species which are the subject of the permits; and (3) are consistent with the purposes and policies set forth in section 2 of the ESA. Authority to take listed species is subject to conditions set forth in the permits. Permits and modifications are issued in accordance with and are subject to the ESA and NMFS regulations (50 CFR parts 222–226) governing listed fish and wildlife permits. sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: Species Covered in This Notice The following listed species are covered in this notice: Threatened California Coastal (CC) Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), Endangered Central California Coast (CCC) Coho salmon (O. kisutch), and VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:59 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 Permit 20032 A notice of receipt of an application for an enhancement of survival permit (20032) was published in the Federal Register on November 18, 2015 (80 FR 72047). Permit 20032 was issued to the Permit Holder, Sonoma County Water Agency, on March 3, 2016, and expires on March 3, 2051. Permit 20032 facilitates the implementation of the Dry Creek Valley Programmatic Safe Harbor Agreement (Agreement) that is expected to promote the recovery of the Covered Species on non-federal properties within Dry Creek below Warm Springs Dam, a tributary to the Russian River in Sonoma County, California. The duration of the Agreement and Permit 20032 is 35 years. Permit 20032 authorizes the incidental taking of the Covered Species associated with routine viticulture activities and the potential future return of any property included in the Agreement to the Elevated Baseline Condition. Under this Agreement, individual landowners (Cooperators) may include their properties by entering into a Cooperative Agreement with the Permit Holder. Each Cooperative Agreement will specify the restoration and/or enhancement, and management activities to be carried out on that specific property and a timetable for implementing those activities. All Cooperative Agreements will be reviewed by NMFS to determine whether the proposed activities will result in a net conservation benefit for the Covered Species and meet all required standards of the Safe Harbor Policy (64 FR 32717). Upon NMFS approval, the Permit Holder will issue a Certificate of Inclusion to the Cooperator. Each Certificate of Inclusion will extend the incidental take coverage conferred by the Enhancement of Survival permit to the Cooperator. Certificates of Inclusion will be valid for a minimum of 10 years, but no longer than the term of Permit 20032. The Agreement requires that each enrolled property adopt an Elevated Baseline Condition. Elevated Baseline levels for the Covered Species will be determined by completing the Elevated Baseline Habitat Worksheet (Table 1 in Attachment 3 of the Agreement), which will be completed by the Permit Holder. NMFS will review each Elevated Baseline determination prior to the Permit Holder issuing a Certificate of Inclusion to the Cooperator. The PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Agreement also contains a monitoring component that requires the Permit Holder to ensure that the Cooperators are in compliance with the terms and conditions of the Agreement, and that the Elevated Baseline levels of habitat for the Covered Species occur on the Enrolled Property. Results of these monitoring efforts will be provided to NMFS by the Permit Holder in annual reports for the duration of the 35-year permit term. Permit 20032 authorizes those Cooperators who have been issued a Certificate of Inclusion to take Covered Species incidental to the implementation of the management activities specified in the Agreement, incidental to other lawful uses of the property including routine viticulture activities, and to return to Elevated Baseline Conditions if desired. Dated: May 26, 2016. Angela Somma, Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2016–12825 Filed 5–31–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XE468 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Seabird and Pinniped Research Activities in Central California, 2016–2017 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; issuance of an incidental harassment authorization. AGENCY: In accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) regulations, we hereby give notification that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has issued an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) to Point Blue Conservation Science (Point Blue), to take marine mammals, by Level B harassment, incidental to conducting seabird and pinniped research activities in central California, May, 2016 through May, 2017. SUMMARY: Effective May 16, 2016 through May 15, 2017. ADDRESSES: The public may obtain an electronic copy of the Point Blue’s application, supporting documentation, the authorization, and a list of the DATES: E:\FR\FM\01JNN1.SGM 01JNN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Notices references cited in this document by visiting: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/ permits/incidental/research.htm. In the case of problems accessing these documents, please call the contact listed here (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). The Environmental Assessment and associated Finding of No Significant Impact, prepared pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, are also available at the same site. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert Pauline, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS (301) 427–8401. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Availability An electronic copy of Point Blue’s application and supporting documents, as well as a list of the references cited in this document, may be obtained by visiting the Internet at: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental/research.htm. In case of problems accessing these documents, please call the contact listed above (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Background Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA; 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) directs the Secretary of Commerce to authorize, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine mammals of a species or population stock, by United States citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified geographical region if: (1) We make certain findings; (2) the taking is limited to harassment; and (3) we provide a notice of a proposed authorization to the public for review. We shall grant an authorization for the incidental taking of small numbers of marine mammals if we find that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s), and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant). Also, the authorization must set forth the permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such takings. We have defined ‘‘negligible impact’’ in 50 CFR 216.103 as ‘‘an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.’’ Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, the MMPA defines ‘‘harassment’’ as: Any act of VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:59 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A harassment]; or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering [Level B harassment]. Summary of Request On September 29, 2015, NMFS received an application from Point Blue requesting the taking by harassment of marine mammals incidental to conducting seabird research activities ˜ on Southeast Farallon Island, Ano Nuevo Island, and Point Reyes National Seashore in central California. Point Blue, along with partners Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge and Point Reyes National Seashore, plan to conduct the proposed activities for one year. These partners are conducting this research under cooperative agreements with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in consultation with the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Following the initial application submission, Point Blue submitted an updated version of their application on February 23, 2016. We considered the revised renewal request for 2016–2017 activities as adequate and complete on February 25, 2016. On December 24, 2015 (80 FR 80321), we published a Federal Register notice announcing our issuance of a revised Authorization (effective through January 30, 2016) to Point Blue to take marine mammals by harassment, incidental to conducting the same activities presented in this notice of proposed Authorization. The revised Authorization increased the number of authorized take for California sea lions from approximately 9,871 to 44,871 due to Point Blue encountering unprecedented numbers of California sea lions hauled out in survey areas due to warming environmental conditions in the Pacific Ocean offshore California— which researchers have attributed to an ˜ El Nino event. These proposed activities would occur in the vicinity of pinniped haul out sites and could likely result in the incidental take of marine mammals. We anticipate take, by Level B Harassment only, of individuals of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus), Pacific harbor seals (Phoca vitulina), northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris), Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) and northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus) to result from the specified activity. PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 34979 This is the organization’s seventh request for an Authorization. To date, we have issued an Incidental Harassment Authorization (Authorization) to Point Blue (formerly known as PRBO Conservation Science) for the conduct of similar activities from 2007 to 2015 (72 FR 71121, December 14, 2007; 73 FR 77011, December 18, 2008; 75 FR 8677, February 19, 2010; 77 FR 73989, December 7, 2012; 78 FR 66686, November 6, 2013; December 24, 2015; 80 FR 80321). Description of the Specified Activity Overview Point Blue proposes to monitor and census seabird colonies; observe seabird nesting habitat; restore nesting burrows; observe breeding elephant and harbor seals; and resupply a field station annually in central California (i.e., ˜ Southeast Farallon Island, Ano Nuevo Island, and Point Reyes National Seashore in central California). The purpose of the seabird research is to continue a 30-year monitoring program of the region’s seabird populations. Point Blue’s long-term pinniped research program monitors pinniped colonies to understand elephant and harbor seal population dynamics and to contribute to the conservation of both species. Dates and Duration The Authorization would be effective from May 16, 2016 through May 15, 2017. Specified Geographic Region Point Blue will conduct their research activities within the vicinity of pinniped haul out sites in the following locations: South Farallones Islands: The South Farallon Islands consist of Southeast Farallon Island located at 37°41′54.32″ N; 123°0′8.33″ W and West End Island. The South Farallon Islands have a land area of approximately 120 acres (0.49 square kilometers (km)) and are part of the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge. The islands are located near the edge of the continental shelf 28 miles (mi) (45.1 km) west of San Francisco, CA, and lie within the waters of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. ˜ ˜ Ano Nuevo Island: Ano Nuevo Island located at 37°6′29.25″ N; 122°20′12.20″ W is one-quarter mile (402 meters (m)) ˜ offshore of Ano Nuevo Point in San Mateo County, CA. The island lies within the Monterey Bay National ˜ Marine Sanctuary and the Ano Nuevo State Marine Conservation Area. Point Reyes National Seashore: Point Reyes National Seashore is E:\FR\FM\01JNN1.SGM 01JNN1 34980 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Notices sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES approximately 40 miles (64.3 km) north of San Francisco Bay and also lies within the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Detailed Description of Activities We outlined the purpose of Point Blue’s activities in a previous notice for the proposed authorization (81 FR 15249, March 22, 2016). Following is a brief summary of the activities. Seabird Research on Southeast Farallon Island: Daily observations of seabird colonies would occur at a maximum frequency of three 15-minute visits per day; and daily observations would be conducted of breeding common murres (Uria aalge) at a maximum frequency of one, five-hour visit per day in September. These activities usually involve one or two observers conducting daily censuses of seabirds or conducting mark/recapture studies of breeding seabirds on Southeast Farallon Island. The researchers plan to access the island’s two landing areas, the North Landing and the East Landing, by 14 to 18 feet (ft) (4.3 to 5.5 meters [m]) open motorboats which are hoisted onto the island using a derrick system and then travel by foot to coastal areas of the island to view breeding seabirds from behind an observation blind. Field Station Resupply on Southeast Farallon Island: Resupply of the field station would occur once every two weeks at a maximum frequency of 26 visits annually. Resupply activities involve personnel approaching either the North Landing or East Landing by motorboat to offload supplies. ˜ Seabird Research on Ano Nuevo Island: Researchers would monitor seabird burrow nesting habitat quality and to conduct habitat restoration at a maximum frequency of 20 visits per year. This activity involves two to three researchers accessing the north side of the island by a 12 ft (3.7 m) Zodiac boat. Once onshore, the researchers will check subterranean nest boxes and restore any nesting habitat for approximately 15 minutes. Seabird Research on Point Reyes National Seashore: The National Park Service in collaboration with Point Blue would monitor seabird breeding and roosting colonies; conduct habitat restoration; remove non-native plants; monitor intertidal areas; and maintain coastal dune habitat. Seabird monitoring usually involves one or two observers conducting the survey by small boats along the shoreline. Researchers would visit the site at a maximum frequency of 20 times per year. The proposed activities have not changed between the proposed VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:59 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 authorization notice and this final notice announcing the issuance of the Authorization. For a more detailed description of the authorized action, we refer the reader to the notice for the proposed authorization (81 FR 15249, March 22, 2016). Comments and Responses We published a notice of receipt of Point Blue’s application and proposed Authorization in the Federal Register on March 22, 2016 (81 FR 15249). During the 30-day comment period, we received one comment from the Marine Mammal Commission (Commission) which recommended that we issue the requested Authorization, provided that Point Blue carries out the required monitoring and mitigation measures as described in the notice of the proposed authorization (81 FR 15249, March 22, 2016) and the application. We have included all measures proposed in the notice of the proposed authorization (81 FR 15249, March 22, 2016). We also received a comment letter from one private citizen who opposed the authorization on the basis that NMFS should not allow any Authorizations for harassment. We considered the commenter’s general opposition to Point Blue’s activities and to our issuance of an Authorization. The Authorization, described in detail in the Federal Register notice of the proposed Authorization (81 FR 15249, March 22, 2016) includes mitigation and monitoring measures to effect the least practicable impact to marine mammals and their habitat. It is our responsibility to determine whether the activities will have a negligible impact on the affected species or stocks; will have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses, where relevant; and to prescribe the means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on the affected species or stocks and their habitat, as well as monitoring and reporting requirements. The MMPA allows U.S. citizens to request take of marine mammals incidental to specified activities, and requires us to authorize such taking if we can make the necessary findings required by law and if we set forth the appropriate prescriptions. As explained throughout the Federal Register notice (81 FR 15249, March 22, 2016) we made the necessary preliminary findings under 16 U.S.C. 1361(a)(5)(D) to support issuance of Authorization. PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Description of the Marine Mammals in the Area of the Proposed Specified Activity The marine mammals most likely to be harassed incidental to conducting seabird and pinniped research at the proposed research areas are primarily California sea lions, northern elephant seals, Pacific harbor seals, and to a lesser extent the eastern distinct population segment (DPS) of the Steller sea lion and northern fur seal. We refer the public to Carretta et al., (2015) for general information on these species which we presented in the notice of the proposed authorization (81 FR 15249, March 22, 2016). California (southern) sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis), listed as threatened under the ESA and categorized as depleted under the MMPA, usually range in coastal waters within 1.24 miles (2 km) of the shoreline. Point Blue has not encountered California sea otters during the course of their seabird or pinniped research activities over the past five years. This species is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and we do not consider it further in this notice of issuance of an Authorization. Potential Effects on Marine Mammals Acoustic and visual stimuli generated by: (1) Noise generated by motorboat approaches and departures; (2) noise generated during restoration activities and loading operations while resupplying the field station; and (3) human presence during seabird and pinniped research activities, have the potential to cause California sea lions, Pacific harbor seals, northern elephant seals, and Steller sea lions hauled out in areas within Southeast Farallon Island, ˜ Ano Nuevo Island and Point Reyes National Seashore to flush into the surrounding water or to cause a shortterm behavioral disturbance for marine mammals. We expect that acoustic and visual stimuli resulting from the proposed motorboat operations and human presence has the potential to harass marine mammals. We also expect that these disturbances would be temporary and result, at worst, in a temporary modification in behavior and/or lowlevel physiological effects (Level B harassment) of certain species of marine mammals. We included a summary and discussion of the ways that the types of stressors associated with Point Blue’s specified activities (i.e., visual and acoustic disturbance) have the potential to impact marine mammals in a previous notice for the proposed E:\FR\FM\01JNN1.SGM 01JNN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Notices Mitigation species or stock for taking for certain subsistence uses. Point Blue has based the mitigation measures which they will implement during the proposed research, on the following: (1) Protocols used during previous Point Blue seabird research activities as required by our previous authorizations for these activities; and (2) recommended best practices in Richardson et al. (1995). To reduce the potential for disturbance from acoustic and visual stimuli associated with the activities Point Blue and/or its designees has proposed to implement the following mitigation measures for marine mammals: ˜ (1) Postpone beach landings on Ano Nuevo Island until pinnipeds that may be present on the beach have slowly entered the water. (2) Select a pathway of approach to research sites that minimizes the number of marine mammals harassed. (3) Avoid visits to sites used by pinnipeds for pupping. (4) Monitor for offshore predators and do not approach hauled out pinnipeds if great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) or killer whales (Orcinas orca) are present. If Point Blue and/or its designees see predators in the area, they must not disturb the animals until the area is free of predators. (5) Keep voices hushed and bodies low to the ground in the visual presence of pinnipeds. (6) Conduct seabird observations at North Landing on Southeast Farallon Island in an observation blind, shielded from the view of hauled out pinnipeds. (7) Crawl slowly to access seabird nest ˜ boxes on Ano Nuevo Island if pinnipeds are within view. (8) Coordinate research visits to intertidal areas of Southeast Farallon Island (to reduce potential take) and ˜ coordinate research goals for Ano Nuevo Island to minimize the number of trips to the island. (9) Coordinate monitoring schedules ˜ on Ano Nuevo Island, so that areas near any pinnipeds would be accessed only once per visit. (10) Have the lead biologist serve as an observer to evaluate incidental take. In order to issue an incidental take authorization under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, we must set forth the permissible methods of taking pursuant to such activity, and other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on such species or stock and its habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and the availability of such Mitigation Conclusions NMFS has carefully evaluated the applicant’s proposed mitigation measures and have considered a range of other measures in the context of ensuring that we have prescribed the means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on the affected marine mammal species and stocks and their habitat. NMFS’ evaluation of potential measures included consideration of the authorization (81 FR 15249, March 22, 2016). Vessel Strike: The potential for striking marine mammals is a concern with vessel traffic. However, it is highly unlikely that the use of small, slowmoving boats to access the research areas would result in injury, serious injury, or mortality to any marine mammal. Typically, the reasons for vessel strikes are fast transit speeds, lack of maneuverability, or not seeing the animal because the boat is so large. Point Blue’s researchers will access areas at slow transit speeds in easily maneuverable boats negating any chance of an accidental strike. Rookeries: No research activities would occur on pinniped rookeries and breeding animals are concentrated in areas where researchers would not visit. Therefore, we do not expect mother and pup separation or crushing of pups during flushing. The potential effects to marine mammals described in the notice for the proposed authorization (81 FR 15249, March 22, 2016) did not take into consideration the proposed monitoring and mitigation measures described later in this document (see the ‘‘Proposed Mitigation’’ and ‘‘Proposed Monitoring and Reporting’’ sections). Anticipated Effects on Habitat sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES We considered these impacts in detail in the notice for the proposed authorization (81 FR 15249, March 22, 2016). Briefly, we do not anticipate that the proposed research activities would result in any significant or long-term effects on the habitats used by the marine mammals in the proposed area, including the food sources they use (i.e., fish and invertebrates). While we anticipate that the specified activity could potentially result in marine mammals avoiding certain areas due to temporary ensonification and human presence, this impact to habitat is temporary and reversible. We do not consider behavioral modification to cause significant or long-term consequences for individual marine mammals or their populations. VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:59 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 34981 following factors in relation to one another: (1) The manner in which, and the degree to which, we expect that the successful implementation of the measure would minimize adverse impacts to marine mammals; (2) The proven or likely efficacy of the specific measure to minimize adverse impacts as planned; and (3) The practicability of the measure for applicant implementation. Any mitigation measure(s) prescribed by NMFS should be able to accomplish, have a reasonable likelihood of accomplishing (based on current science), or contribute to the accomplishment of one or more of the general goals listed below: 1. Avoidance or minimization of injury or death of marine mammals wherever possible (goals 2, 3, and 4 may contribute to this goal). 2. A reduction in the numbers of marine mammals (total number or number at biologically important time or location) exposed to activities expected to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing harassment takes only). 3. A reduction in the number of times (total number or number at biologically important time or location) individuals would be exposed to activities expected to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing harassment takes only). 4. A reduction in the intensity of exposures (either total number or number at biologically important time or location) to activities expected to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing the severity of harassment takes only). 5. Avoidance or minimization of adverse effects to marine mammal habitat, paying special attention to the food base, activities that block or limit passage to or from biologically important areas, permanent destruction of habitat, or temporary destruction/ disturbance of habitat during a biologically important time. 6. For monitoring directly related to mitigation—an increase in the probability of detecting marine mammals, thus allowing for more effective implementation of the mitigation. Based on our evaluation of Point Blue’s proposed measures, we have determined that the mitigation measures provide the means of effecting the least practicable impact on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, E:\FR\FM\01JNN1.SGM 01JNN1 34982 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Notices sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES mating grounds, and areas of similar significance. Monitoring and Reporting In order to issue an incidental take authorization for an activity, section 101(a)(5)(D) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act states that we must set forth ‘‘requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking.’’ The Act’s implementing regulations at 50 CFR 216.104(a)(13) indicate that requests for an incidental take authorization must include the suggested means of accomplishing the necessary monitoring and reporting that will result in increased knowledge of the species and our expectations of the level of taking or impacts on populations of marine mammals present in the action area. Monitoring measures prescribed by NMFS should accomplish one or more of the general goals by documenting the following: • Occurrence of marine mammal species in action area (e.g., presence, abundance, distribution, density). • Nature, scope, or context of likely marine mammal exposure to potential stressors/impacts (individual or cumulative, acute or chronic), through better understanding of: (1) Action or environment (e.g., source characterization, propagation, ambient noise); (2) Affected species (e.g., life history, dive patterns); (3) Cooccurrence of marine mammal species with the action; or (4) Biological or behavioral context of exposure (e.g., age, calving or feeding areas). • Individual responses to acute stressors, or impacts of chronic exposures (behavioral or physiological). • How anticipated responses to stressors impact either: (1) Long-term fitness and survival of an individual; or (2) Population, species, or stock. • Effects on marine mammal habitat and resultant impacts to marine mammals. • Mitigation and monitoring effectiveness. As part of its 2016–2017 application, Point Blue proposes to sponsor marine mammal monitoring during the present project, in order to implement the mitigation measures that require realtime monitoring, and to satisfy the monitoring requirements of the incidental harassment authorization. The Point Blue researchers will monitor the area for pinnipeds during all research activities. Monitoring activities will consist of conducting and recording observations on pinnipeds within the vicinity of the proposed research areas. The monitoring notes would provide dates, location, species, the researcher’s VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:59 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 activity, behavioral state, and numbers of animals that were alert or moved and numbers of pinnipeds that flushed into the water. Observers will record marine mammal behavior patterns and disturbances observed before, during, and after the activities according to a three-point scale including: (1) Head orientation in response to disturbance, which may include turning head towards the disturbance, craning head and neck while holding the body rigid in a u-shaped position, or changing from a lying to a sitting position and/or slight movement of less than 1 m; ‘‘alert’’; (2) Movements in response to or away from disturbance, over short distances (typically two times its body length) and including dramatic changes in direction or speed of locomotion for animals already in motion ‘‘movement’’; (3) All flushes to the water as well as lengthier retreats (>3 m); ‘‘flight’’. However, authorized takes shall only be recorded when disturbances meet criteria for #2 and #3 described above. Point Blue has complied with the monitoring requirements under the previous authorizations for the 2007 through 2015 seasons. The results from previous Point Blue’s monitoring reports support our findings that the proposed mitigation measures, which we also required under the 2007–2015 Authorizations provide the means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on the species or stock. Point Blue will submit a monitoring report on the May 16, 2016 through May 15, 2017 research. Upon receipt and review, we will post this annual report on our Web site at http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental/research.htm. Point Blue must submit a draft final report to NMFS’ Office of Protected Resources within 60 days after the conclusion of the 2016–2017 field season. The report will include a summary of the information gathered pursuant to the monitoring requirements set forth in the Authorization. Point Blue will submit a final report to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, within 30 days after receiving comments from NMFS on the draft final report. If Point Blue does not receive any comments from NMFS on the draft report, NMFS and Point Blue will consider the draft final report to be the final report. PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, the Marine Mammal Protection Act defines ‘‘harassment’’ as: Any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A harassment]; or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering [Level B harassment]. NMFS proposes to authorize take by Level B harassment only for the proposed seabird research activities on ˜ Southeast Farallon Island, Ano Nuevo Island, and Point Reyes National Seashore. Acoustic (i.e., increased sound) and visual stimuli generated during these proposed activities may have the potential to cause marine mammals in the harbor area to experience temporary, short-term changes in behavior. Based on Point Blue’s previous research experiences, with the same activities conducted in the proposed research area, and on marine mammal research activities in these areas, we estimate that approximately 53,538 California sea lions, 485 harbor seals, 221 northern elephant seals, 5 northern fur seals, and 38 Steller sea lions could be affected by Level B behavioral harassment over the course of the effective period of the proposed Authorization. The authorized take differs from Point Blue’s original request for California sea lions (44,871), harbor seals (343), northern elephant seals (196), and Steller sea lions (106). NMFS bases these new estimates on historical data from previous monitoring reports and anecdotal data for the same activities conducted in the proposed research areas. In brief, for four species (i.e., California sea lions, harbor seals, northern elephant seals, and Steller sea lions), we created a statistical model to derive an estimate of the average annual increase of reported take based on a best fit regression analysis (i.e., linear or polynomial regression) of reported take from 2007 to 2016. Next, we added the predicted annual increase in take for each species to the baseline reported take for the 2015–2016 seasons to project the estimated take for each species for the 2016–2017 proposed Authorization. We carried through the same predicted annual increase in take for future Authorizations (2017–2019) to obtain a mean projected take for each E:\FR\FM\01JNN1.SGM 01JNN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Notices species. Last, we analyzed the reported take for each activity by calculating the upper bound of the 95 percent confidence interval of the mean reported take (2007–2016) and mean projected take (2017–2019) for each species. Our use of the upper confidence interval represents the best available information that supports our precautionary deliberation of how much take could occur annually. Although Point Blue has not reported encountering northern fur seals during the course of their previously authorized activities, NMFS has included take (5) for northern fur seals based on recent stranding information in the area for that species. There is no evidence that Point Blue’s planned activities could result in injury, serious injury or mortality within the action area. Moreover, the required mitigation and monitoring measures will minimize further any potential risk for injury, serious injury, or mortality. Thus, we do not authorize any injury, serious injury or mortality. We expect all potential takes to fall under the category of Level B harassment only. Encouraging and Coordinating Research Point Blue will continue to coordinate monitoring of pinnipeds during the research activities occurring on ˜ Southeast Farallon Island, Ano Nuevo Island, and Point Reyes National Seashore. Point Blue conducts bone fide research on marine mammals, the results of which may contribute to the basic knowledge of marine mammal biology or ecology, or are likely to identify, evaluate, or resolve conservation problems. Analysis and Determinations sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Negligible Impact Analysis NMFS has defined ‘‘negligible impact’’ in 50 CFR 216.103 as ‘‘. . . an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.’’ A negligible impact finding is based on the lack of likely adverse effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival (i.e., populationlevel effects). An estimate of the number of Level B harassment takes alone is not enough information on which to base an impact determination. In addition to considering estimates of the number of marine mammals that might be ‘‘taken’’ through behavioral harassment, we consider other factors, such as the likely nature of any responses (e.g., intensity, duration), the context of any responses VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:59 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 (e.g., critical reproductive time or location, migration), as well as the number and nature of estimated Level A harassment takes, the number of estimated mortalities, and effects on habitat. To avoid repetition, the discussion below applies to all five species discussed earlier in this notice. In making a negligible impact determination, we consider: • The number of anticipated injuries, serious injuries, or mortalities; • The number, nature, and intensity, and duration of Level B harassment; • The context in which the takes occur (e.g., impacts to areas of significance, impacts to local populations, and cumulative impacts when taking into account successive/ contemporaneous actions when added to baseline data); • The status of stock or species of marine mammals (i.e., depleted, not depleted, decreasing, increasing, stable, impact relative to the size of the population); • Impacts on habitat affecting rates of recruitment/survival; and • The effectiveness of monitoring and mitigation measures to reduce the number or severity of incidental take. For reasons stated previously in this document and based on the following factors, NMFS does not expect Point Blue’s specified activities to cause longterm behavioral disturbance, abandonment of the haul-out area, injury, serious injury, or mortality: (1) The takes from Level B harassment would be due to potential behavioral disturbance. The effects of the seabird research activities would be limited to short-term startle responses and localized behavioral changes due to the short and sporadic duration of the research activities. Minor and brief responses, such as short-duration startle or alert reactions, are not likely to constitute disruption of behavioral patterns, such as migration, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering. (2) The availability of alternate areas for pinnipeds to avoid the resultant acoustic and visual disturbances from the research operations. Results from previous monitoring reports also show that the pinnipeds returned to the various sites and did not permanently abandon haul-out sites after Point Blue conducted their pinniped and research activities. (3) There is no potential for largescale movements leading to injury, serious injury, or mortality because the researchers must delay ingress into the landing areas until after the pinnipeds present have slowly entered the water. PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 34983 (4) The limited access of Point Blue’s researchers to Southeast Farallon Island, ˜ Ano Nuevo Island, and Point Reyes National Seashore during the pupping season. We do not anticipate that any injuries, serious injuries, or mortalities would occur as a result of Point Blue’s proposed activities, and we do not propose to authorize injury, serious injury or mortality. These species may exhibit behavioral modifications, including temporarily vacating the area during the proposed seabird and pinniped research activities to avoid the resultant acoustic and visual disturbances. Further, these proposed activities would not take place in areas of significance for marine mammal feeding, resting, breeding, or calving and would not adversely impact marine mammal habitat. Due to the nature, degree, and context of the behavioral harassment anticipated, the activities are not expected to impact annual rates of recruitment or survival. NMFS does not expect pinnipeds to permanently abandon any area that is surveyed by researchers, as is evidenced by continued presence of pinnipeds at the sites during annual monitoring counts. Based on the analysis contained herein of the likely effects of the specified activity on marine mammals and their habitat, and taking into consideration the implementation of the proposed mitigation and monitoring measures, NMFS finds that the total marine mammal take from Point Blue’s seabird research activities will not adversely affect annual rates of recruitment or survival and therefore will have a negligible impact on the affected species or stocks. Small Numbers Analysis As mentioned previously, NMFS estimates that five species of marine mammals could be potentially affected by Level B harassment over the course of the proposed Authorization. For each species, these numbers are small relative to the population size. These incidental harassment numbers represent approximately 18.04 percent of the U.S. stock of California sea lion, 1.61 percent of the California stock of Pacific harbor seal, 0.12 percent of the California breeding stock of northern elephant seal, 0.04 percent of the California stock of northern fur seals, and 0.06 percent of the eastern distinct population segment of Steller sea lion. Because these are maximum estimates, actual take numbers are likely to be lower, as some animals may select other haul-out sites the day the researchers are present. E:\FR\FM\01JNN1.SGM 01JNN1 34984 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 105 / Wednesday, June 1, 2016 / Notices Impact on Availability of Affected Species or Stock for Taking for Subsistence Uses Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA also requires us to determine that the taking will not have an unmitigable adverse effect on the availability of marine mammal species or stocks for subsistence use. There are no relevant subsistence uses of marine mammals implicated by this action. Thus, NMFS has determined that the total taking of affected species or stocks would not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of such species or stocks for taking for subsistence purposes. Endangered Species Act No marine mammal species listed under the ESA are anticipated to occur in the action area. Therefore, NMFS has determined that a section 7 consultation under the ESA is not required. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) We prepared an Environmental Assessment (DEA) analyzing the potential effects to the human environment from the issuance of an Authorization to Point Blue for their seabird research activities. The EA titled, Issuance of an Incidental Harassment Authorization to Point Blue Conservation Science and Partners to Take Marine Mammals by Harassment Incidental to Seabird Research Conducted in Central California is posted on our Web site at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental/research.htm. NMFS provided relevant environmental information to the public through the notice of proposed Authorization (81 FR 15249, March 22, 2016) and considered public comments received prior to finalizing our EA and deciding whether or not to issue a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). NMFS concluded that issuance of an Incidental Harassment Authorization would not significantly affect the quality of the human environment and prepared and issued a FONSI in accordance with NEPA and NOAA Administrative Order 216–6. NMFS’ EA and FONSI for this activity are available upon request (see ADDRESSES). sradovich on DSK3TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Authorization As a result of these determinations, we have issued an Authorization to Point Blue for the take of marine mammals incidental to proposed seabird and pinniped research activities, provided they incorporate the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements. VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:59 May 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 Dated: May 26, 2016. Perry Gayaldo, Deputy Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2016–12816 Filed 5–31–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XE443 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Boost-Backs and Landings of Rockets at Vandenberg Air Force Base National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; issuance of an incidental harassment authorization. AGENCY: In accordance with the regulations implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) as amended, notification is hereby given that we have issued an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to Space Explorations Technology Corporation (SpaceX), to incidentally harass, by Level B harassment only, marine mammals incidental to boost-backs and landings of Falcon 9 rockets at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and at a contingency landing location approximately 30 miles offshore. SUMMARY: This Authorization is effective from June 30, 2016, through June 29, 2017. DATES: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jordan Carduner, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427–8401. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Availability An electronic copy of SpaceX’s IHA application and supporting documents, as well as a list of the references cited in this document, may be obtained by visiting the Internet at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental/. In case of problems accessing these documents, please call the contact listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. Background Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce to allow, upon request by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 commercial fishing) within a specified area, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine mammals, providing that certain findings are made and the necessary prescriptions are established. The incidental taking of small numbers of marine mammals may be allowed only if NMFS (through authority delegated by the Secretary) finds that the total taking by the specified activity during the specified time period will (i) have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s) and (ii) not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant). Further, the permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such taking must be set forth. The allowance of such incidental taking under section 101(a)(5)(A), by harassment, serious injury, death, or a combination thereof, requires that regulations be established. Subsequently, a Letter of Authorization may be issued pursuant to the prescriptions established in such regulations, providing that the level of taking will be consistent with the findings made for the total taking allowable under the specific regulations. Under section 101(a)(5)(D), NMFS may authorize such incidental taking by harassment only, for periods of not more than one year, pursuant to requirements and conditions contained within an IHA. The establishment of these prescriptions requires notice and opportunity for public comment. NMFS has defined ‘‘negligible impact’’ in 50 CFR 216.103 as ‘‘. . . an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.’’ Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, section 3(18) of the MMPA defines ‘‘harassment’’ as: ‘‘. . . any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A harassment]; or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering [Level B harassment].’’ Summary of Request On July 28, 2015, we received a request from SpaceX for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to E:\FR\FM\01JNN1.SGM 01JNN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 105 (Wednesday, June 1, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 34978-34984]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-12816]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XE468


Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; 
Seabird and Pinniped Research Activities in Central California, 2016-
2017

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Notice; issuance of an incidental harassment authorization.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: In accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) 
regulations, we hereby give notification that the National Marine 
Fisheries Service (NMFS) has issued an Incidental Harassment 
Authorization (IHA) to Point Blue Conservation Science (Point Blue), to 
take marine mammals, by Level B harassment, incidental to conducting 
seabird and pinniped research activities in central California, May, 
2016 through May, 2017.

DATES: Effective May 16, 2016 through May 15, 2017.

ADDRESSES: The public may obtain an electronic copy of the Point Blue's 
application, supporting documentation, the authorization, and a list of 
the

[[Page 34979]]

references cited in this document by visiting: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/research.htm. In the case of 
problems accessing these documents, please call the contact listed here 
(see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).
    The Environmental Assessment and associated Finding of No 
Significant Impact, prepared pursuant to the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969, are also available at the same site.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert Pauline, Office of Protected 
Resources, NMFS (301) 427-8401.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Availability

    An electronic copy of Point Blue's application and supporting 
documents, as well as a list of the references cited in this document, 
may be obtained by visiting the Internet at: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/research.htm. In case of problems accessing these 
documents, please call the contact listed above (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT).

Background

    Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA; 16 
U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) directs the Secretary of Commerce to authorize, 
upon request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of small 
numbers of marine mammals of a species or population stock, by United 
States citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than 
commercial fishing) within a specified geographical region if: (1) We 
make certain findings; (2) the taking is limited to harassment; and (3) 
we provide a notice of a proposed authorization to the public for 
review.
    We shall grant an authorization for the incidental taking of small 
numbers of marine mammals if we find that the taking will have a 
negligible impact on the species or stock(s), and will not have an 
unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or 
stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant). Also, the authorization 
must set forth the permissible methods of taking and requirements 
pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such takings. We have 
defined ``negligible impact'' in 50 CFR 216.103 as ``an impact 
resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably 
expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the 
species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or 
survival.''
    Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, the 
MMPA defines ``harassment'' as: Any act of pursuit, torment, or 
annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or 
marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A harassment]; or (ii) has the 
potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild 
by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not 
limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or 
sheltering [Level B harassment].

Summary of Request

    On September 29, 2015, NMFS received an application from Point Blue 
requesting the taking by harassment of marine mammals incidental to 
conducting seabird research activities on Southeast Farallon Island, 
A[ntilde]o Nuevo Island, and Point Reyes National Seashore in central 
California. Point Blue, along with partners Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge 
and Point Reyes National Seashore, plan to conduct the proposed 
activities for one year. These partners are conducting this research 
under cooperative agreements with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 
consultation with the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. 
Following the initial application submission, Point Blue submitted an 
updated version of their application on February 23, 2016. We 
considered the revised renewal request for 2016-2017 activities as 
adequate and complete on February 25, 2016.
    On December 24, 2015 (80 FR 80321), we published a Federal Register 
notice announcing our issuance of a revised Authorization (effective 
through January 30, 2016) to Point Blue to take marine mammals by 
harassment, incidental to conducting the same activities presented in 
this notice of proposed Authorization. The revised Authorization 
increased the number of authorized take for California sea lions from 
approximately 9,871 to 44,871 due to Point Blue encountering 
unprecedented numbers of California sea lions hauled out in survey 
areas due to warming environmental conditions in the Pacific Ocean 
offshore California--which researchers have attributed to an El 
Ni[ntilde]o event.
    These proposed activities would occur in the vicinity of pinniped 
haul out sites and could likely result in the incidental take of marine 
mammals. We anticipate take, by Level B Harassment only, of individuals 
of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus), Pacific harbor seals 
(Phoca vitulina), northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris), 
Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) and northern fur seals 
(Callorhinus ursinus) to result from the specified activity.
    This is the organization's seventh request for an Authorization. To 
date, we have issued an Incidental Harassment Authorization 
(Authorization) to Point Blue (formerly known as PRBO Conservation 
Science) for the conduct of similar activities from 2007 to 2015 (72 FR 
71121, December 14, 2007; 73 FR 77011, December 18, 2008; 75 FR 8677, 
February 19, 2010; 77 FR 73989, December 7, 2012; 78 FR 66686, November 
6, 2013; December 24, 2015; 80 FR 80321).

Description of the Specified Activity

Overview

    Point Blue proposes to monitor and census seabird colonies; observe 
seabird nesting habitat; restore nesting burrows; observe breeding 
elephant and harbor seals; and resupply a field station annually in 
central California (i.e., Southeast Farallon Island, A[ntilde]o Nuevo 
Island, and Point Reyes National Seashore in central California).
    The purpose of the seabird research is to continue a 30-year 
monitoring program of the region's seabird populations. Point Blue's 
long-term pinniped research program monitors pinniped colonies to 
understand elephant and harbor seal population dynamics and to 
contribute to the conservation of both species.

Dates and Duration

    The Authorization would be effective from May 16, 2016 through May 
15, 2017.

Specified Geographic Region

    Point Blue will conduct their research activities within the 
vicinity of pinniped haul out sites in the following locations:
    South Farallones Islands: The South Farallon Islands consist of 
Southeast Farallon Island located at 37[deg]41'54.32'' N; 
123[deg]0'8.33'' W and West End Island. The South Farallon Islands have 
a land area of approximately 120 acres (0.49 square kilometers (km)) 
and are part of the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge. The islands are 
located near the edge of the continental shelf 28 miles (mi) (45.1 km) 
west of San Francisco, CA, and lie within the waters of the Gulf of the 
Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.
    A[ntilde]o Nuevo Island: A[ntilde]o Nuevo Island located at 
37[deg]6'29.25'' N; 122[deg]20'12.20'' W is one-quarter mile (402 
meters (m)) offshore of A[ntilde]o Nuevo Point in San Mateo County, CA. 
The island lies within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and 
the A[ntilde]o Nuevo State Marine Conservation Area.
    Point Reyes National Seashore: Point Reyes National Seashore is

[[Page 34980]]

approximately 40 miles (64.3 km) north of San Francisco Bay and also 
lies within the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.

Detailed Description of Activities

    We outlined the purpose of Point Blue's activities in a previous 
notice for the proposed authorization (81 FR 15249, March 22, 2016). 
Following is a brief summary of the activities.
    Seabird Research on Southeast Farallon Island: Daily observations 
of seabird colonies would occur at a maximum frequency of three 15-
minute visits per day; and daily observations would be conducted of 
breeding common murres (Uria aalge) at a maximum frequency of one, 
five-hour visit per day in September. These activities usually involve 
one or two observers conducting daily censuses of seabirds or 
conducting mark/recapture studies of breeding seabirds on Southeast 
Farallon Island. The researchers plan to access the island's two 
landing areas, the North Landing and the East Landing, by 14 to 18 feet 
(ft) (4.3 to 5.5 meters [m]) open motorboats which are hoisted onto the 
island using a derrick system and then travel by foot to coastal areas 
of the island to view breeding seabirds from behind an observation 
blind.
    Field Station Resupply on Southeast Farallon Island: Resupply of 
the field station would occur once every two weeks at a maximum 
frequency of 26 visits annually. Resupply activities involve personnel 
approaching either the North Landing or East Landing by motorboat to 
offload supplies.
    Seabird Research on A[ntilde]o Nuevo Island: Researchers would 
monitor seabird burrow nesting habitat quality and to conduct habitat 
restoration at a maximum frequency of 20 visits per year. This activity 
involves two to three researchers accessing the north side of the 
island by a 12 ft (3.7 m) Zodiac boat. Once onshore, the researchers 
will check subterranean nest boxes and restore any nesting habitat for 
approximately 15 minutes.
    Seabird Research on Point Reyes National Seashore: The National 
Park Service in collaboration with Point Blue would monitor seabird 
breeding and roosting colonies; conduct habitat restoration; remove 
non-native plants; monitor intertidal areas; and maintain coastal dune 
habitat. Seabird monitoring usually involves one or two observers 
conducting the survey by small boats along the shoreline. Researchers 
would visit the site at a maximum frequency of 20 times per year.
    The proposed activities have not changed between the proposed 
authorization notice and this final notice announcing the issuance of 
the Authorization. For a more detailed description of the authorized 
action, we refer the reader to the notice for the proposed 
authorization (81 FR 15249, March 22, 2016).

Comments and Responses

    We published a notice of receipt of Point Blue's application and 
proposed Authorization in the Federal Register on March 22, 2016 (81 FR 
15249). During the 30-day comment period, we received one comment from 
the Marine Mammal Commission (Commission) which recommended that we 
issue the requested Authorization, provided that Point Blue carries out 
the required monitoring and mitigation measures as described in the 
notice of the proposed authorization (81 FR 15249, March 22, 2016) and 
the application. We have included all measures proposed in the notice 
of the proposed authorization (81 FR 15249, March 22, 2016).
    We also received a comment letter from one private citizen who 
opposed the authorization on the basis that NMFS should not allow any 
Authorizations for harassment. We considered the commenter's general 
opposition to Point Blue's activities and to our issuance of an 
Authorization. The Authorization, described in detail in the Federal 
Register notice of the proposed Authorization (81 FR 15249, March 22, 
2016) includes mitigation and monitoring measures to effect the least 
practicable impact to marine mammals and their habitat. It is our 
responsibility to determine whether the activities will have a 
negligible impact on the affected species or stocks; will have an 
unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or 
stock(s) for subsistence uses, where relevant; and to prescribe the 
means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on the affected 
species or stocks and their habitat, as well as monitoring and 
reporting requirements. The MMPA allows U.S. citizens to request take 
of marine mammals incidental to specified activities, and requires us 
to authorize such taking if we can make the necessary findings required 
by law and if we set forth the appropriate prescriptions. As explained 
throughout the Federal Register notice (81 FR 15249, March 22, 2016) we 
made the necessary preliminary findings under 16 U.S.C. 1361(a)(5)(D) 
to support issuance of Authorization.

Description of the Marine Mammals in the Area of the Proposed Specified 
Activity

    The marine mammals most likely to be harassed incidental to 
conducting seabird and pinniped research at the proposed research areas 
are primarily California sea lions, northern elephant seals, Pacific 
harbor seals, and to a lesser extent the eastern distinct population 
segment (DPS) of the Steller sea lion and northern fur seal. We refer 
the public to Carretta et al., (2015) for general information on these 
species which we presented in the notice of the proposed authorization 
(81 FR 15249, March 22, 2016).
    California (southern) sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis), listed as 
threatened under the ESA and categorized as depleted under the MMPA, 
usually range in coastal waters within 1.24 miles (2 km) of the 
shoreline. Point Blue has not encountered California sea otters during 
the course of their seabird or pinniped research activities over the 
past five years. This species is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service and we do not consider it further in this notice of issuance of 
an Authorization.

Potential Effects on Marine Mammals

    Acoustic and visual stimuli generated by: (1) Noise generated by 
motorboat approaches and departures; (2) noise generated during 
restoration activities and loading operations while resupplying the 
field station; and (3) human presence during seabird and pinniped 
research activities, have the potential to cause California sea lions, 
Pacific harbor seals, northern elephant seals, and Steller sea lions 
hauled out in areas within Southeast Farallon Island, A[ntilde]o Nuevo 
Island and Point Reyes National Seashore to flush into the surrounding 
water or to cause a short-term behavioral disturbance for marine 
mammals.
    We expect that acoustic and visual stimuli resulting from the 
proposed motorboat operations and human presence has the potential to 
harass marine mammals. We also expect that these disturbances would be 
temporary and result, at worst, in a temporary modification in behavior 
and/or low-level physiological effects (Level B harassment) of certain 
species of marine mammals.
    We included a summary and discussion of the ways that the types of 
stressors associated with Point Blue's specified activities (i.e., 
visual and acoustic disturbance) have the potential to impact marine 
mammals in a previous notice for the proposed

[[Page 34981]]

authorization (81 FR 15249, March 22, 2016).
    Vessel Strike: The potential for striking marine mammals is a 
concern with vessel traffic. However, it is highly unlikely that the 
use of small, slow-moving boats to access the research areas would 
result in injury, serious injury, or mortality to any marine mammal. 
Typically, the reasons for vessel strikes are fast transit speeds, lack 
of maneuverability, or not seeing the animal because the boat is so 
large. Point Blue's researchers will access areas at slow transit 
speeds in easily maneuverable boats negating any chance of an 
accidental strike.
    Rookeries: No research activities would occur on pinniped rookeries 
and breeding animals are concentrated in areas where researchers would 
not visit. Therefore, we do not expect mother and pup separation or 
crushing of pups during flushing.
    The potential effects to marine mammals described in the notice for 
the proposed authorization (81 FR 15249, March 22, 2016) did not take 
into consideration the proposed monitoring and mitigation measures 
described later in this document (see the ``Proposed Mitigation'' and 
``Proposed Monitoring and Reporting'' sections).

Anticipated Effects on Habitat

    We considered these impacts in detail in the notice for the 
proposed authorization (81 FR 15249, March 22, 2016). Briefly, we do 
not anticipate that the proposed research activities would result in 
any significant or long-term effects on the habitats used by the marine 
mammals in the proposed area, including the food sources they use 
(i.e., fish and invertebrates). While we anticipate that the specified 
activity could potentially result in marine mammals avoiding certain 
areas due to temporary ensonification and human presence, this impact 
to habitat is temporary and reversible. We do not consider behavioral 
modification to cause significant or long-term consequences for 
individual marine mammals or their populations.

Mitigation

    In order to issue an incidental take authorization under section 
101(a)(5)(D) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, we must set forth the 
permissible methods of taking pursuant to such activity, and other 
means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on such species 
or stock and its habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, 
mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and the availability 
of such species or stock for taking for certain subsistence uses.
    Point Blue has based the mitigation measures which they will 
implement during the proposed research, on the following: (1) Protocols 
used during previous Point Blue seabird research activities as required 
by our previous authorizations for these activities; and (2) 
recommended best practices in Richardson et al. (1995).
    To reduce the potential for disturbance from acoustic and visual 
stimuli associated with the activities Point Blue and/or its designees 
has proposed to implement the following mitigation measures for marine 
mammals:
    (1) Postpone beach landings on A[ntilde]o Nuevo Island until 
pinnipeds that may be present on the beach have slowly entered the 
water.
    (2) Select a pathway of approach to research sites that minimizes 
the number of marine mammals harassed.
    (3) Avoid visits to sites used by pinnipeds for pupping.
    (4) Monitor for offshore predators and do not approach hauled out 
pinnipeds if great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) or killer 
whales (Orcinas orca) are present. If Point Blue and/or its designees 
see predators in the area, they must not disturb the animals until the 
area is free of predators.
    (5) Keep voices hushed and bodies low to the ground in the visual 
presence of pinnipeds.
    (6) Conduct seabird observations at North Landing on Southeast 
Farallon Island in an observation blind, shielded from the view of 
hauled out pinnipeds.
    (7) Crawl slowly to access seabird nest boxes on A[ntilde]o Nuevo 
Island if pinnipeds are within view.
    (8) Coordinate research visits to intertidal areas of Southeast 
Farallon Island (to reduce potential take) and coordinate research 
goals for A[ntilde]o Nuevo Island to minimize the number of trips to 
the island.
    (9) Coordinate monitoring schedules on A[ntilde]o Nuevo Island, so 
that areas near any pinnipeds would be accessed only once per visit.
    (10) Have the lead biologist serve as an observer to evaluate 
incidental take.

Mitigation Conclusions

    NMFS has carefully evaluated the applicant's proposed mitigation 
measures and have considered a range of other measures in the context 
of ensuring that we have prescribed the means of effecting the least 
practicable adverse impact on the affected marine mammal species and 
stocks and their habitat. NMFS' evaluation of potential measures 
included consideration of the following factors in relation to one 
another:
    (1) The manner in which, and the degree to which, we expect that 
the successful implementation of the measure would minimize adverse 
impacts to marine mammals;
    (2) The proven or likely efficacy of the specific measure to 
minimize adverse impacts as planned; and
    (3) The practicability of the measure for applicant implementation.
    Any mitigation measure(s) prescribed by NMFS should be able to 
accomplish, have a reasonable likelihood of accomplishing (based on 
current science), or contribute to the accomplishment of one or more of 
the general goals listed below:
    1. Avoidance or minimization of injury or death of marine mammals 
wherever possible (goals 2, 3, and 4 may contribute to this goal).
    2. A reduction in the numbers of marine mammals (total number or 
number at biologically important time or location) exposed to 
activities expected to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal 
may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing harassment takes only).
    3. A reduction in the number of times (total number or number at 
biologically important time or location) individuals would be exposed 
to activities expected to result in the take of marine mammals (this 
goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing harassment takes only).
    4. A reduction in the intensity of exposures (either total number 
or number at biologically important time or location) to activities 
expected to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal may 
contribute to 1, above, or to reducing the severity of harassment takes 
only).
    5. Avoidance or minimization of adverse effects to marine mammal 
habitat, paying special attention to the food base, activities that 
block or limit passage to or from biologically important areas, 
permanent destruction of habitat, or temporary destruction/disturbance 
of habitat during a biologically important time.
    6. For monitoring directly related to mitigation--an increase in 
the probability of detecting marine mammals, thus allowing for more 
effective implementation of the mitigation.
    Based on our evaluation of Point Blue's proposed measures, we have 
determined that the mitigation measures provide the means of effecting 
the least practicable impact on marine mammal species or stocks and 
their habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries,

[[Page 34982]]

mating grounds, and areas of similar significance.

Monitoring and Reporting

    In order to issue an incidental take authorization for an activity, 
section 101(a)(5)(D) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act states that we 
must set forth ``requirements pertaining to the monitoring and 
reporting of such taking.'' The Act's implementing regulations at 50 
CFR 216.104(a)(13) indicate that requests for an incidental take 
authorization must include the suggested means of accomplishing the 
necessary monitoring and reporting that will result in increased 
knowledge of the species and our expectations of the level of taking or 
impacts on populations of marine mammals present in the action area.
    Monitoring measures prescribed by NMFS should accomplish one or 
more of the general goals by documenting the following:
     Occurrence of marine mammal species in action area (e.g., 
presence, abundance, distribution, density).
     Nature, scope, or context of likely marine mammal exposure 
to potential stressors/impacts (individual or cumulative, acute or 
chronic), through better understanding of: (1) Action or environment 
(e.g., source characterization, propagation, ambient noise); (2) 
Affected species (e.g., life history, dive patterns); (3) Co-occurrence 
of marine mammal species with the action; or (4) Biological or 
behavioral context of exposure (e.g., age, calving or feeding areas).
     Individual responses to acute stressors, or impacts of 
chronic exposures (behavioral or physiological).
     How anticipated responses to stressors impact either: (1) 
Long-term fitness and survival of an individual; or (2) Population, 
species, or stock.
     Effects on marine mammal habitat and resultant impacts to 
marine mammals.
     Mitigation and monitoring effectiveness.
    As part of its 2016-2017 application, Point Blue proposes to 
sponsor marine mammal monitoring during the present project, in order 
to implement the mitigation measures that require real-time monitoring, 
and to satisfy the monitoring requirements of the incidental harassment 
authorization. The Point Blue researchers will monitor the area for 
pinnipeds during all research activities. Monitoring activities will 
consist of conducting and recording observations on pinnipeds within 
the vicinity of the proposed research areas. The monitoring notes would 
provide dates, location, species, the researcher's activity, behavioral 
state, and numbers of animals that were alert or moved and numbers of 
pinnipeds that flushed into the water.
    Observers will record marine mammal behavior patterns and 
disturbances observed before, during, and after the activities 
according to a three-point scale including:
    (1) Head orientation in response to disturbance, which may include 
turning head towards the disturbance, craning head and neck while 
holding the body rigid in a u-shaped position, or changing from a lying 
to a sitting position and/or slight movement of less than 1 m; 
``alert'';
    (2) Movements in response to or away from disturbance, over short 
distances (typically two times its body length) and including dramatic 
changes in direction or speed of locomotion for animals already in 
motion ``movement'';
    (3) All flushes to the water as well as lengthier retreats (>3 m); 
``flight''. However, authorized takes shall only be recorded when 
disturbances meet criteria for #2 and #3 described above.
    Point Blue has complied with the monitoring requirements under the 
previous authorizations for the 2007 through 2015 seasons. The results 
from previous Point Blue's monitoring reports support our findings that 
the proposed mitigation measures, which we also required under the 
2007-2015 Authorizations provide the means of effecting the least 
practicable adverse impact on the species or stock.
    Point Blue will submit a monitoring report on the May 16, 2016 
through May 15, 2017 research. Upon receipt and review, we will post 
this annual report on our Web site at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/research.htm.
    Point Blue must submit a draft final report to NMFS' Office of 
Protected Resources within 60 days after the conclusion of the 2016-
2017 field season. The report will include a summary of the information 
gathered pursuant to the monitoring requirements set forth in the 
Authorization.
    Point Blue will submit a final report to the Chief, Permits and 
Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, within 30 days 
after receiving comments from NMFS on the draft final report. If Point 
Blue does not receive any comments from NMFS on the draft report, NMFS 
and Point Blue will consider the draft final report to be the final 
report.

Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment

    Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, the 
Marine Mammal Protection Act defines ``harassment'' as: Any act of 
pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a 
marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A harassment]; 
or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal 
stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, 
including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, 
feeding, or sheltering [Level B harassment].
    NMFS proposes to authorize take by Level B harassment only for the 
proposed seabird research activities on Southeast Farallon Island, 
A[ntilde]o Nuevo Island, and Point Reyes National Seashore. Acoustic 
(i.e., increased sound) and visual stimuli generated during these 
proposed activities may have the potential to cause marine mammals in 
the harbor area to experience temporary, short-term changes in 
behavior.
    Based on Point Blue's previous research experiences, with the same 
activities conducted in the proposed research area, and on marine 
mammal research activities in these areas, we estimate that 
approximately 53,538 California sea lions, 485 harbor seals, 221 
northern elephant seals, 5 northern fur seals, and 38 Steller sea lions 
could be affected by Level B behavioral harassment over the course of 
the effective period of the proposed Authorization.
    The authorized take differs from Point Blue's original request for 
California sea lions (44,871), harbor seals (343), northern elephant 
seals (196), and Steller sea lions (106). NMFS bases these new 
estimates on historical data from previous monitoring reports and 
anecdotal data for the same activities conducted in the proposed 
research areas. In brief, for four species (i.e., California sea lions, 
harbor seals, northern elephant seals, and Steller sea lions), we 
created a statistical model to derive an estimate of the average annual 
increase of reported take based on a best fit regression analysis 
(i.e., linear or polynomial regression) of reported take from 2007 to 
2016. Next, we added the predicted annual increase in take for each 
species to the baseline reported take for the 2015-2016 seasons to 
project the estimated take for each species for the 2016-2017 proposed 
Authorization. We carried through the same predicted annual increase in 
take for future Authorizations (2017-2019) to obtain a mean projected 
take for each

[[Page 34983]]

species. Last, we analyzed the reported take for each activity by 
calculating the upper bound of the 95 percent confidence interval of 
the mean reported take (2007-2016) and mean projected take (2017-2019) 
for each species. Our use of the upper confidence interval represents 
the best available information that supports our precautionary 
deliberation of how much take could occur annually.
    Although Point Blue has not reported encountering northern fur 
seals during the course of their previously authorized activities, NMFS 
has included take (5) for northern fur seals based on recent stranding 
information in the area for that species.
    There is no evidence that Point Blue's planned activities could 
result in injury, serious injury or mortality within the action area. 
Moreover, the required mitigation and monitoring measures will minimize 
further any potential risk for injury, serious injury, or mortality. 
Thus, we do not authorize any injury, serious injury or mortality. We 
expect all potential takes to fall under the category of Level B 
harassment only.

Encouraging and Coordinating Research

    Point Blue will continue to coordinate monitoring of pinnipeds 
during the research activities occurring on Southeast Farallon Island, 
A[ntilde]o Nuevo Island, and Point Reyes National Seashore. Point Blue 
conducts bone fide research on marine mammals, the results of which may 
contribute to the basic knowledge of marine mammal biology or ecology, 
or are likely to identify, evaluate, or resolve conservation problems.

Analysis and Determinations

Negligible Impact Analysis

    NMFS has defined ``negligible impact'' in 50 CFR 216.103 as ``. . . 
an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be 
reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely 
affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of 
recruitment or survival.'' A negligible impact finding is based on the 
lack of likely adverse effects on annual rates of recruitment or 
survival (i.e., population-level effects). An estimate of the number of 
Level B harassment takes alone is not enough information on which to 
base an impact determination. In addition to considering estimates of 
the number of marine mammals that might be ``taken'' through behavioral 
harassment, we consider other factors, such as the likely nature of any 
responses (e.g., intensity, duration), the context of any responses 
(e.g., critical reproductive time or location, migration), as well as 
the number and nature of estimated Level A harassment takes, the number 
of estimated mortalities, and effects on habitat.
    To avoid repetition, the discussion below applies to all five 
species discussed earlier in this notice. In making a negligible impact 
determination, we consider:
     The number of anticipated injuries, serious injuries, or 
mortalities;
     The number, nature, and intensity, and duration of Level B 
harassment;
     The context in which the takes occur (e.g., impacts to 
areas of significance, impacts to local populations, and cumulative 
impacts when taking into account successive/contemporaneous actions 
when added to baseline data);
     The status of stock or species of marine mammals (i.e., 
depleted, not depleted, decreasing, increasing, stable, impact relative 
to the size of the population);
     Impacts on habitat affecting rates of recruitment/
survival; and
     The effectiveness of monitoring and mitigation measures to 
reduce the number or severity of incidental take.
    For reasons stated previously in this document and based on the 
following factors, NMFS does not expect Point Blue's specified 
activities to cause long-term behavioral disturbance, abandonment of 
the haul-out area, injury, serious injury, or mortality:
    (1) The takes from Level B harassment would be due to potential 
behavioral disturbance. The effects of the seabird research activities 
would be limited to short-term startle responses and localized 
behavioral changes due to the short and sporadic duration of the 
research activities. Minor and brief responses, such as short-duration 
startle or alert reactions, are not likely to constitute disruption of 
behavioral patterns, such as migration, nursing, breeding, feeding, or 
sheltering.
    (2) The availability of alternate areas for pinnipeds to avoid the 
resultant acoustic and visual disturbances from the research 
operations. Results from previous monitoring reports also show that the 
pinnipeds returned to the various sites and did not permanently abandon 
haul-out sites after Point Blue conducted their pinniped and research 
activities.
    (3) There is no potential for large-scale movements leading to 
injury, serious injury, or mortality because the researchers must delay 
ingress into the landing areas until after the pinnipeds present have 
slowly entered the water.
    (4) The limited access of Point Blue's researchers to Southeast 
Farallon Island, A[ntilde]o Nuevo Island, and Point Reyes National 
Seashore during the pupping season.
    We do not anticipate that any injuries, serious injuries, or 
mortalities would occur as a result of Point Blue's proposed 
activities, and we do not propose to authorize injury, serious injury 
or mortality. These species may exhibit behavioral modifications, 
including temporarily vacating the area during the proposed seabird and 
pinniped research activities to avoid the resultant acoustic and visual 
disturbances. Further, these proposed activities would not take place 
in areas of significance for marine mammal feeding, resting, breeding, 
or calving and would not adversely impact marine mammal habitat. Due to 
the nature, degree, and context of the behavioral harassment 
anticipated, the activities are not expected to impact annual rates of 
recruitment or survival.
    NMFS does not expect pinnipeds to permanently abandon any area that 
is surveyed by researchers, as is evidenced by continued presence of 
pinnipeds at the sites during annual monitoring counts. Based on the 
analysis contained herein of the likely effects of the specified 
activity on marine mammals and their habitat, and taking into 
consideration the implementation of the proposed mitigation and 
monitoring measures, NMFS finds that the total marine mammal take from 
Point Blue's seabird research activities will not adversely affect 
annual rates of recruitment or survival and therefore will have a 
negligible impact on the affected species or stocks.

Small Numbers Analysis

    As mentioned previously, NMFS estimates that five species of marine 
mammals could be potentially affected by Level B harassment over the 
course of the proposed Authorization. For each species, these numbers 
are small relative to the population size. These incidental harassment 
numbers represent approximately 18.04 percent of the U.S. stock of 
California sea lion, 1.61 percent of the California stock of Pacific 
harbor seal, 0.12 percent of the California breeding stock of northern 
elephant seal, 0.04 percent of the California stock of northern fur 
seals, and 0.06 percent of the eastern distinct population segment of 
Steller sea lion.
    Because these are maximum estimates, actual take numbers are likely 
to be lower, as some animals may select other haul-out sites the day 
the researchers are present.

[[Page 34984]]

Impact on Availability of Affected Species or Stock for Taking for 
Subsistence Uses

    Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA also requires us to determine that 
the taking will not have an unmitigable adverse effect on the 
availability of marine mammal species or stocks for subsistence use. 
There are no relevant subsistence uses of marine mammals implicated by 
this action. Thus, NMFS has determined that the total taking of 
affected species or stocks would not have an unmitigable adverse impact 
on the availability of such species or stocks for taking for 
subsistence purposes.

Endangered Species Act

    No marine mammal species listed under the ESA are anticipated to 
occur in the action area. Therefore, NMFS has determined that a section 
7 consultation under the ESA is not required.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

    We prepared an Environmental Assessment (DEA) analyzing the 
potential effects to the human environment from the issuance of an 
Authorization to Point Blue for their seabird research activities. The 
EA titled, Issuance of an Incidental Harassment Authorization to Point 
Blue Conservation Science and Partners to Take Marine Mammals by 
Harassment Incidental to Seabird Research Conducted in Central 
California is posted on our Web site at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/research.htm. NMFS provided relevant environmental 
information to the public through the notice of proposed Authorization 
(81 FR 15249, March 22, 2016) and considered public comments received 
prior to finalizing our EA and deciding whether or not to issue a 
Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). NMFS concluded that issuance 
of an Incidental Harassment Authorization would not significantly 
affect the quality of the human environment and prepared and issued a 
FONSI in accordance with NEPA and NOAA Administrative Order 216-6. 
NMFS' EA and FONSI for this activity are available upon request (see 
ADDRESSES).

Authorization

    As a result of these determinations, we have issued an 
Authorization to Point Blue for the take of marine mammals incidental 
to proposed seabird and pinniped research activities, provided they 
incorporate the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring, and 
reporting requirements.

    Dated: May 26, 2016.
Perry Gayaldo,
Deputy Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2016-12816 Filed 5-31-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P